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Filipinos band together to help child with broken arm after mother’s plea

After 36-year-old homeless mother Salvacion Eslita asked for help to finance the operation of her 10-year-old daughter, many Filipinos were quick to come to their aid.

Eslita, a resident from Cabasan in Cagraray Island and a mother of 9 children, was left homeless when Super Typhoon Rolly flattened their house. To make things worse, her daughter Vanessa broke her arm when it was hit by a falling coconut as Super Typhoon Rolly hammered the Bicol region last November 1.

Vanessa and her siblings are also struggling to continue their education after their school paraphernalia and modules were wiped out by the series of typhoons. 

Vanessa was told by a doctor from Armando D. Cope General Hospital that she will need an operation to put in place stainless steel on her broken right arm. Eslita’s family, however, cannot afford it, as they are struggling to feed 9 children and rebuild their house.

The family has already been finding it difficult to cope with their daily expenses after Eslita’s husband Oscar Bombales, who used to be an abaca stripper, became jobless following the series of tropical cyclones that pummeled Bicol region and wiped out abaca plantations in the area.

As the family cannot afford the operation yet, a physician at Amado D. Cope General Hospital cemented Vanessa’s arm instead to save it from possible infection. Hoping to get help to finance her daughter’s operation, Eslita shared her story with Rappler.

Eslita especially struggled to bring in aid for her family since Cagraray Island is isolated from the mainland area of Albay, where the first salvo of devastation was reported by mainstream media. Although Cagraray Island was one of the hardest hit areas in Albay, assistance only reached their area more than a week after the occurrence of Super Typhoon Rolly. It didn’t help that not many people were aware of the massive devastation in the islands of Cagraray and San Miguel due to underreporting. 

Already working to provide temporary shelters to 18 barangays in the island, the Sacred Heart Parish in Barangay Cabasan heard of Eslita’s plight. A sister from the parish soon reached out to Rappler in a bid to help Eslita’s daughter.

Soon after the family’s plight was published on Rappler, financial aid poured in to help fund Vanessa’s operation. These donations were sent through Ronaldo D. Ebrada, the president of the Legazpi City Host Lions Club, an organization which is active in sharing help during disasters.

“The spirit of Bayanihan among the Filipinos truly lives on as there are so many good Samaritans in the middle of a pandemic and in dire situations. I’m amazed and happy as the intention to help Vanessa is overwhelming where donors contributed from P10 pesos to P10,000, the biggest contribution,” Ebrada said.

The fund drive generated for Vanessa’s operation reached P100,000 since Vanessa’s plight was shared on Rappler on November 28. Thanks to the donation, Vanessa has so far undergone a check-up to stabilize her condition.

Having heard of Vanessa’s condition, an orthopedic surgeon specialist at Estevez Memorial Hospital in Legazpi City offered to waive his professional fee so he can help the child heal.

Redoblado also told Rappler that if there are similar cases like Vanessa, they can go to his clinic, so he can do something for those affected.

CHECK-UP. Eslita and her daughter go for a check-up to see the status of the young child's broken arm.

Photo by Rhaydz B. Barcia

While Vanessa’s doctor initially told her she might need surgery, Redoblado said that the young child must avoid it if possible as it can hamper her development.

“As much as possible, I don’t want Vanessa to undergo a surgery to lessen the harm as it will affect her development. For a 10-year-old child to be operated on or should a stainless [steel] be put up to her broken arm, there will be a big change and impact on her body,” Redoblado said.

Following Vanessa’s check-up on Tuesday, December 15, Redoblado told Rappler that the young child will no longer need surgery as her fractured right bone is gradually healing. Though the fractured bone is not completely connected, it already has a soft callus slightly covering it, showing signs that the Vanessa’s bone is “remodeling” following the incident.

Vanessa will be wearing an arm sling for another two weeks. Redoblado said that if Vanessa’s broken bone didn’t heal, it would have cost the family P40,000 to P50,000 alone for stainless steel tool to be placed on her broken arm. The hospitalization in a private hospital like Estevez, Redoblado said, would cost at least P200,000 including physician fees.

While the family will no longer be spending for Vanessa’s surgery, they still need to find a way to rebuild their home. The Lions Club has offered to help establish the family’s home using the part of the funds generated for Vanessa.

For the meantime, Vanessa and her family are staying at the residence of Evangelyn Imperial, one of the officers of Legazpi City Host Lions Club. –